Changes in visual perception at the time of saccades

Trends Neurosci. 2001 Feb;24(2):113-21. doi: 10.1016/s0166-2236(00)01685-4.


We frequently reposition our gaze by making rapid ballistic eye movements that are called saccades. Saccades pose problems for the visual system, because they generate rapid, large-field motion on the retina and change the relationship between the object position in external space and the image position on the retina. The brain must ignore the one and compensate for the other. Much progress has been made in recent years in understanding the effects of saccades on visual function and elucidating the mechanisms responsible for them. Evidence suggests that saccades trigger two distinct neural processes: (1) a suppression of visual sensitivity, specific to the magnocellular pathway, that dampens the sensation of motion and (2) a gross perceptual distortion of visual space in anticipation of the repositioning of gaze. Neurophysiological findings from several laboratories are beginning to identify the neural substrates involved in these effects.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Contrast Sensitivity / physiology*
  • Humans
  • Photic Stimulation / methods*
  • Saccades / physiology*
  • Visual Fields / physiology*
  • Visual Perception / physiology